I am pleased to announce Maria Grace stopped by Indie Chat to share her inspirations and bits of the processes during the writing her latest release, Twelfth Night at Longbourn. We are also honored Maria shared an excerpt of Twelfth Night at Longbourn.
Maria Grace has long contributed to the historical fiction community – authors and readers alike – with her Friday History A’la Carte, in which she shares fascinating historical news and events through links, articles, and videos. Maria’s last name is certainly appropriate; her generosity is a Grace she shares with us all. I urge you to drop by History A’la Carte. I promise you`ll be fascinated!
Maria recently changed her profile picture on Facebook. Isn`t this gorgeous…
Thanks so much for inviting me to come by and share about my research and my newest book, Darlene. I’m so excited visit with you and readers.
* What inspired you?
I am fascinated by the process of personal growth and the ways people grow or do not as a result of the challenges they face. I am also a touch OCD, and cut this particular plot arc out of my previous book and the character was demanding her story told.
* What fascinates you about early 19th Century England?
The 19th century fascinates me in particular because it represents the world on the cusp of the industrial revolution. Because the world around them is on the cusp of change, so are the characters set in the era. That makes it a perfect match for the kinds of stories I like to write.
* Did you have to go to extraordinary lengths for any of the research?
I confess, I love the research process. I have an enormous research notebook on my computer, where I save everything. Beyond that, I have been collecting hundreds of digitized versions of period books. I just wish I had time to sit and read them all at once.
At the moment, I am researching rheumatic fever for my current project, and it has been a struggle trying to find references from the right period. I’ve just about topped out my resources so I’ll start talking to my friends inside the medical field. I have one friend who teaches on the history of medicine who I am sure will be able to help me out.
* Any unique tidbit of research that didn’t make it into your book?
One goodie I tried to include in my most recent book but could not work it in was about the Bong Street Loungers. In Regency London, Bond Street was the place to be seen shopping, so there was a group of young dandies who hung out there and developed a signature walk, the Bond Street Roll. This caught my eye because it is so much like young men today and I thought it would be a neat observation for one of my character to make, but it ended up not fitting very well and I edited it out. Hated to cut it though.
One of my biggest frustrations is the amount of research I do not get to include in the books. It is sometimes hard to find the right balance for what to include without sounding like a walking history text. Too little detail, and the world doesn’t come to life; too much, and the story gets distracted and weighed down by details that really aren’t important.
* Who is your favorite character and why?
My favorite character in the book is the heroine’s aunt. She is a font of wisdom and understanding, believing in and supporting my heroine. She is the kind of woman I wish I had in my life what I was younger.
Maria graciously provided an excerpt from Twelfth Night a Longbourn for our enjoyment:
Twelfth Night a Longbourn
Laughter filtered from the parlor.
“Just in time for a new hand!” Mr. Richards called over his shoulder.
He and Louisa pulled several chairs to the card table.
“What shall we play now?” Miss Richards scooted her chair to accommodate the newcomers.
“A hand of speculation perhaps?” Mr. Richards shuffled the cards.
“A capital idea.” Mr. Bingley tapped the table. “I have not played in months.”
“That is because you always win.” Louisa folded her arms.
“Why should I be punished for that? It is not my fault if you do not pay proper attention to your cards.”
They all guffawed.
Mr. Richards dealt the cards and turned up the trump.
“I do believe you hold something against me, Mr. Richards.” Aunt tucked her cards into a neat fan.
“If he has aught against you, then he must be looking to be sacked, given the hand he dealt me.” Uncle touched Kitty’s shoulder with his.
“The luck of the cards, my friends, nothing more, nothing less.” Mr. Richards tapped the remaining cards on the table.
A little smile played along Louisa’s lips. “My cards reveal you harbor a secret tendre’ for me—one my betrothed might find objectionable.”
Mr. Bingley nearly choked on a raucous laugh.
How Kitty loved that sound. Did Catherines laugh? Etiquette manuals suggested not. She chewed the inside of her cheek.
Laughter had filled Longbourn during her childhood. As Mama’s concerns for the business of getting husbands occupied more and more of her energies there seemed to be less and less of that precious sound. Given the choice, Kitty would rather stay here in Cheapside, with warmth and worn carpets, laughter and fewer candles, than in the fine houses of Darcy’s neighborhood.
“Miss Bennet?” Mr. Bingley whispered.
She jumped and stared at her cards.
“Wool gathering, my dear?” Uncle raised an eyebrow. “I had no idea we were such dull company.”
Kitty turned over a card. “Not dull at all. I was merely considering—”
“Not your next bid, certainly—not if that is your card.” Mr. Richards rapped the queen with his long index finger.
“Oh, do not take him to heart.” His sister sniffed. “He would tease you to distraction merely to assist you in losing the hand.”
“I am not the only one with such a brother?” Louisa tipped her head toward her brother.
“I suppose you would say brothers are most troublesome creatures?” Mr. Bingley elbowed Mr. Richards. “I have not one of my own, so I cannot say directly. However, I may infer sisters are at least every bit as provoking and irksome as any brother. What say you, Richards?”
“No truer words have ever been spoken, sir! Gardiner, you must agree as well, for you have two, three sisters is it?”
Uncle’s smile faded just enough for Kitty to notice. Just before she left, Lizzy told her of Aunt Rawls.
“I am not sure I agree.” Aunt leaned in. “I have two sisters and three brothers. I assure you my brothers are every bit as vexing as my sisters.”
“But to whom do you call when you are in need of assistance? Who do you depend on for help? Your brothers, I am sure.” Mr. Richards nodded with an annoying elder brother smile.
Unless of course you have none. Kitty studied the tablecloth’s tea stains. That one looked like a sleeping cat.
“While sisters, on the other hand, are most skilled at getting themselves into trouble.” Mr. Richards stabbed the tea-stain cat with his fingertips. The tablecloth bunched under his hand.
“I cannot say that is the case with all sisters.” Mr. Bingley glanced at Louisa.
“Yes, some are very good and helpful, especially when one has no brothers.” Kitty smoothed the tablecloth.
“Indeed, brother.” Miss Richards tapped her heel. “Do you suggest I am particularly irksome and disruptive to your life?”
“Best watch yourself now!” Uncle pushed his chair back. “You may find your home a very cold place, indeed, if you persist in that vein.”
“You are quite probably correct, and yet, as you further make my point, I shall not be gainsaid. A brother you may grab by the scruff of the neck, dust it up a bit in the back of the house and all things are set to right with a pint at the pub. But with a sister, there are the cold looks, the silence and the tears—oh, the tears and the histrionics! Those are not to be borne.”
“So now I am prone to histrionic fits and vapors, am I?” Miss Richards half rose in her chair, eyes twinkling, though her tone did not match. “I suppose you will next say you fear me trying to catch a gentleman in a compromise or running off to Gretna Green with some foolish fellow like those goosecaps in Meryton.”
“Had you not heard, Miss Bennet?” Mr. Richards asked. “You see, my sister makes my point exactly. In a recent letter, Aunt Goulding mentioned a rash of elopements and attempted elopements in your own home town. One never worries about a brother eloping.”
“One needs not be concerned a properly educated sister will do such a thing, either,” Miss Richards said. “I would suppose a family ill-bred enough to produce a daughter prone to eloping would likewise produce a foolhardy and irresponsible son whose only hope of getting a wife would be to—”
“Children!” Aunt slapped the table. “That is quite enough!”
“I quite agree.” Mr. Bingley tugged his collar. “I have no desire to discuss difficult siblings.” He glanced at Kitty.
The Richardses laughed and tucked chins to chests. “Yes, Mrs. Gardiner.”
Uncle chuckled, but Mr. Bingley did not. His and his sister’s expressions were so serious. No doubt all the talk of elopements and the stain it brought to a family disturbed them. Did they suspect the truth about Lydia?
The air around her turned thick and stale, insufficient for breath.
“I think I hear Thomas.” Kitty dashed out and up to the first landing. The cooler air of the corridor splashed like cold water against her face. She clutched the banister for support as it trickled down her neck and shoulders, cooling the rising heat.
Moonlight mixed with the candlelight, creating a shimmer that glinted off a cut glass vase, filled with fragrant roses. The cool luster soothed Kitty’s ragged nerves and the familiar scent of roses, so like Mama’s, offered fragile peace.
In Meryton, Mr. Bingley hardly noticed Lydia. He never remarked on her behavior nor even glowered at her. Miss Caroline commanded all his attention and vexation. Could that be the case now? Might his agitation be about his sister, not hers?
Oh, that it might be!
But, what if he wished her away because of Lydia?
She squeezed her temples. If that were so, why would he have come tonight? He was everything polite and amiable, but not the kind to deliberately put himself in the way of unpleasant company.
Still, the look on the Bingleys’ faces when Mr. Richards talked of the girls in Meryton eloping—clearly Mr. Bingley would never like her because of it.
But what if he could? Was there any chance of it?
She chewed her knuckle.
“Kitty dear, are the children well?” Aunt called from the foot of the stairs.
“Yes, yes, they are fine.” She hurried downstairs, pausing in the parlor doorway. Mr. Bingley was laughing. The dear sound rang a little hollow, and the corners of his eyes did not turn up quite the way they usually did—or perhaps she merely imagined it. He glanced her way, and his smile seemed to brighten. She smoothed her skirt and returned to the party.
Thanks so much for having me, Darlene.
It was wonderful to read a little of your latest novel, Maria, which certainly seems enticing! Thank you for sharing with us, and thank you for all you do for those who love the Regency era.
Maria Grace Author bio:
Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful.
She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, six cats, seven Regency-era fiction projects and notes for eight more writing projects in progress. To round out the list, she cooks for nine in order to accommodate the growing boys and usually makes ten meals at a time so she only cooks twice a month.
You can contact Maria by:
- Email: MariaGrace@gmail.com.
- Facebook: facebook.com/AuthorMariaGrace
- Twitter: @Writer MariaGrace
- Amazon.com: amazon.com/author/mariagrace
Twelfth Night a Longbourn and more novels by Maria Grace can be purchased at: